Small cross country squad looks to challenge best

SNOQUALMIE - The Mount Si High boys and girls cross country teams are very small this year. Both teams hope to put up a challenge to the best in the Kingco Conference.

Both teams are coached by longtime coach Art Galloway, and returning this year as assistant is Christine Kjenner.

For the first ten student-athletes (six boys, four girls) competing as of late August, there were some key names. Look for seniors Thomas Goble on the boys team and Ariane Barr on the girls squad to lead their respective Wildcat units into competition. Sophomore Katie Hogan returns as well this year to the girls team and is likely to make an impact. The team, however, is looking for more ahtletes.

"We would like to have more depth," Kjenner said.

Barr, who also runs for the Wildcat track team in the spring, sees some differences between the two sports.

"Since I'm a long distance runner, that helps with obviously long distance races in track, but I think track has a different competitive spirit than cross country. In cross country, everyone's doing the same event at the same time. In track, you have to work on a whole bunch of separate events and it's a little more intense," Barr said.

Of the nine total meets this season that are scheduled, two are home at Mount Si, and three are at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah. Barr compared the two courses.

"Since we are on our home course [at Mount Si], we can practice on it as much as we want, and that's a real benefit when we're competing with others on our home course. But the Lake Sammamish course is a very smooth, fast-paced course. There's no potholes in the way or whatever; it's a well kept park so everyone's on equal ground there, and after practicing on hills and different types of terrain, it's actually pretty easy," she said.

Goble elaborated further on the Lake Sammamish course.

"It's very, very flat. About 99 percent of the whole thing is very flat. It's very fast-paced. There's some concrete, but mostly it's through the grass," he said.

Of the sports that could be negatively affected by the new $75 sports fee at Mount Si this fall, cross country may be the one most hurt. But, according to Kjenner, the impact of the fee may not be known to their program for a while.

"It's hard to judge the impact right now because we have an early start, and that's always been hard for our program when we've had an earlier start to get numbers out. I think a lot of kids are used to paying for sports; they are into the select teams, the rec. teams, and they always have to pay for that. I think it takes away from those kids that aren't sure and so they may not give something a try," Kjenner said.

Kjenner expects Bellevue, Mercer Island and Newport to be the top teams in the league this season, but the goal pretty much is focusing on individual improvement.

"You just try to keep them healthy, and you want to see people keep improving," Kjenner said.

As for Goble, he has an idea of what he wants to do this fall.

"My goal is to hopefully make districts this year, and maybe go as far as possible," Goble said. "That's what I'm hoping for."

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